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The last known dancing bears in Nepal rescued

The last known dancing bears in Nepal rescued

A dramatic rescue of two tortured sloth bears took place overnight in Nepal on December 19 by the Jane Goodall Institute of Nepal, with support from World Animal Protection and Nepali police.

  • Launched in 2015, World Animal Protection’s Wildlife Not Entertainers campaign is moving the wildlife tourism industry away from cruel forms of entertainment, such as elephant rides and shows, towards positive wildlife experiences where tourists can see wild animals in the wild or true sanctuaries. 
  • The Wildlife. Not Entertainers campaign gives a voice to the 550,000 wild animals that are currently in captivity and being abused for the sake of so-called tourist entertainment. Successes to date include: 
    • Mobilizing over 800,000 people across the world to take action to end the cruelty inflicted on wild animals in entertainment.   
    • As a result, TripAdvisor, stopped selling and promoting tickets to some of the cruelest wildlife tourist attractions and launched an education portal to help inform travelers about animal welfare issues. 
    • Over 180 more travel companies around the world have committed to stop selling and promoting elephant rides and shows. 

These are the last two known Nepali-owned illegal ‘dancing bears.’ Like so many performing animals, Rangila, a 19-year-old male, and Sridevi, a 17-year-old female, were sold to their owner to be used as dancing bears – a cruel, outlawed practice where bears are made to “dance” as entertainment for crowds of people.

Bears like Rangila and Sridevi are snatched from their mother at an early age and forced to perform. Their owner had pierced their nose with a burning hot rod and shoved a rope through it – to retain control of the large animals. Harsh training methods are then used in order to make them submissive enough to perform for tourists.

With the help of local police, the bears were found in Iharbari, Nepal via mobile phone tracking of the owners. The rescue was emotional for all involved, and the bears were in an extremely distressed state, showing signs of psychological trauma such as cowering, pacing, and paw sucking.

The bears are now in the temporary care of Amlekhgunj Forest and Wildlife Reserve.

World Animal Protection has a 20-year history of working with local partners to bring an end to such cruelty. Having seen an end to bear dancing in Greece, Turkey and India, the NGO is also close to phasing out bear baiting in Pakistan.

Neil D’Cruze of World Animal Protection, said:

“Rangira and Sridvevi have suffered for too long in captivity since they were poached from the wild. It’s extremely distressing to see animals being stolen from the wild, and the sad reality is there are more wild animals suffering across the world, purely for the entertainment of tourists. I am pleased that for these two sloth bears at least, a happy ending is finally in sight.” 

Manoj Gautam of Jane Goodall Institute of Nepal, says:

“We are thrilled that the last two known Nepali dancing bears have been rescued from their lifetime of suffering. After a year of tracking them, using our own intelligence and in cooperation with local police, our hard effort and dedication has helped to bring an end to this illegal tradition in Nepal.” 

The suffering of bears in Asia is still not over, and World Animal Protection continues its campaign to protect bears. Across Asia, the organization is working to stop the exploitation of bears used for the horrific blood sport of bear baiting and in the cruel and unnecessary bear bile industry, where approximately 22,000 Asiatic black bears are stuck in tiny cages, with permanent holes in their stomach and constantly milked for their bile. Their bile and gallbladders are dried, powdered, and sold as panacea to be used as ‘traditional medicine’.